01/17/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/17/2020 17:33
WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), a member of the Senate Commerce and Agriculture Committees and a long-time advocate for expanding connectivity in rural America, released the following statement after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it has invested $5.7 million in high-speed broadband infrastructure to create and improve rural e-connectivity in three Nebraska counties:
'High-speed internet access is an essential resource for Nebraska families, agriculture, communities and businesses. Whether you live in a rural area or a city, it's critical that we continue deploying and strengthening our broadband infrastructure. I applaud the USDA for making this investment in the Heartland,' said Senator Fischer.
The $5.7 million investment comes through the USDA's ReConnect Program, and will be awarded to Eastern Nebraska Telephone Company to construct 221 miles of fiber-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband infrastructure in unserved portions of Madison, Wayne, and Pierce counties. The investment is expected to connect 489 rural households, 24 farms, and eight businesses.
In March 2018, Congress provided $600 million to USDA to expand broadband infrastructure and services in rural America. On Dec. 13, 2018, Secretary Perdue announced the rules of the ReConnect Program, including how the loans and grants will be awarded to help build broadband infrastructure in rural America.
In November, Senator Fischer joined her colleagues in writing a letter to the USDA urging the agency to make adjustments to the ReConnect Program's application process to reduce barriers and encourage fuller participation, which the USDA committed to incorporating.